Barnet v Chester overview
A brace from Jake Hyde helped Barnet seal a comfortable 3-0 victory at the expense of Chester on the opening day of the Skrill Premier campaign. The match signalled the dawn of a new era for Barnet, with it being their first competitive match at their new home The Hive.
What a beginning it was for Barnet. The stadium was buzzing and held a party atmosphere, assisted by a healthy travelling contingent from the Welsh border. Usually it takes a while for new stadiums to start to produce a great ambience around the place, but The Hive seems to have had no such problems. The performance and end result may have helped this to be the case.
It was the type of home match that every Barnet supporter could only wish for. Good, steady passing with an end product to it is just what they desired and that is what they got. Chester didn’t produce much and barely threatened Bees goalkeeper Graham Stack throughout the match. Edgar Davids must not have been match fit as he wasn’t even on the substitute bench and instead rocked up in a luxurious designer suit for his place on the touchline to witness on field goings on. If there is a manager out there who is as cool as Mr Davids is, then keep me informed of whom that may be!
There were few chances for either side in the first half. The only way that Chester looked in any way threatening, was from set pieces. Barnet looked dogged on the defensive front with a pairing of David Stephens and Jack Saville in the centre half positions and both looked comfortable on the ball as they tried to start attacks off from the back. It was evident for all to see that the Barnet players have been instructed to try and keep hold of the ball in order to try and ware their part time opponents out and the trick seemed to work. Chester were able to keep up with the pace in the first half, with Danny Harrison and Craig Lindfield looking the most sharp. But from the moment of Luke Gambin’s 46th minute opener for Barnet until the referees whistle went for full time, the recently relegated side dominated. Jake Hyde, who is still apparently on the transfer list, showed his pedigree with two potent strikers’ finishes that insured the Bees started of their campaign with all three points.
After the likes of Forest Green, LutonTown and Wrexham, Chester are one of the most fancied sides for promotion into the Football League. Under the guidance of Neil Young who has guided the Blues to three successive promotions since the clubs inception in 2010, it seems as though Chester have finally found their level. They accumulated a record 106 points last season in the Conference North, but on Saturday’s showing a fourth promotion in a row is unlikely. With the squad they have it is unlikely that Chester will be worried by relegation, but a promotion push seems far beyond their capabilities. Barnet turned them over pretty easily and there are many other strong, if not stronger, squads in the division. Money bags Forest Green, for example, have 9 first team strikers on their books and this was emphasised with an 8-0 drubbing of Hyde so they are bound to put in a hefty display in front of goal against many of their opponents this season; this despite having a home attendance of just over 1,000. Barnet are going to find it tough to find a way of getting promoted, let alone Chester. It is going to be a long, hard slog for every Skrill Premier club and it will be the sides that show the most consistency in their results that will evidently prevail and be successful. Only the 1 club can get automatically promoted and it will not be by chance that they do. Mansfield were the best, most consistent team last season and that is why they are now appearing on the list of 72 Football League clubs.
From a Barnet fans perspective, their start has been perfect. 3 points and a clean sheet. Just what the doctor ordered. Yet there is no time to be complacent as they travel to Tamworth on Tuesday night, before an even more gruelling trip up to Gateshead on Saturday. Can they make it 6 points out of 6, or 9 points out of 9? Only time will tell and we will have a better understanding of Barnet’s capabilities this time next week. A few would be first teamers missed out on the opening day, not least Edgar Davids, so there is always room for improvement. Barnet’s fresh start is just the first paragraph of a whole new book that is about to be written. But what a first paragraph it is.